Architecture: India. Ruins of Stupa, Parihaspura, Kashmir. Photographer: Basham, Arthur Llewellyn
Key personnel: Chaitanya Sambrani (Chief Investigator); Alex Burchmore (Research Assistant), with colleagues from ANU, National Gallery of Australia, National University of Singapore and Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University.
Funding: ANU Library $20,000 (digitisation); Asia-Pacific Innovations Program: $9,300; Global Research Partnerships Scheme: $29,000.
This project deals with the archive of images put together by the late Professor A. L. Basham (1914-1986) during his tenure as Foundation Professor and Head of the Department of Oriental (later Asian) Civilizations at ANU (1965-1979). He helped set up the Faculty of Oriental (later Asian) Studies at ANU and played a pioneering role in teaching and research in this area in Australia and internationally. His book The Wonder that Was India (1954) became a signal study in the field. Basham undertook extensive fieldwork in South Asia and studied several classical Indian languages. He had a deep interest in art and visual culture as an essential aspect of historical study, and was a keen photographer. His work parallels major scholarly investments being made simultaneously by other scholars, including his Oxford contemporaries William Cohn (1880-1961), Douglas Barrett (1917-1992) and J.C. Harle (1920-2004), whose archives are held in the Ashmolean. The project also considers the role of Michael Sullivan (1916-2013) who worked in the then University of Malaya before moving to London and Oxford. The project revisits Basham’s visual archive alongside those of his colleagues, analysing them as key ingredients in the historiographical construction of ‘classical’ civilizations in Asia.